Story: Charles Soule
Art: Will Sliney
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
What They Say:
SNOKE SINKS HIS CLAWS IN! YOUNG BEN SOLO FACES THE KNIGHTS OF REN! With the new Jedi school in ruins and fellow students hot on his trail for the murder of their master, Ben Solo flees to the only friend he has left in the galaxy…a man named Snoke. But Snoke has plans for Ben…and ideas about the Force that are as dangerous as they are intriguing for the troubled young Jedi. If Ben wishes to be truly free…the answers might lie with the dark side. And with the Knights of Ren! But it won’t be the first time he’s tangled with the Knights. In the past, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker journeys to the Unknown Regions and brings young Ben along for the mission. Can even Luke Skywalker stand against the fabled Knights of Ren?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Having stated that Charles Soule is one of my favored Star Wars writers, I had some hope that with the Kylo Ren series he might be able to salvage some parts of the characters backstory if he was allowed to do so now that the films are complete. While a lot of this belonged in the films – and could have fit well in the second film with some work – I’m glad we’re at least getting it in some form even if I do expect a more fleshed out novel at some point. Will Sliney is an artist I continue to enjoy with a lot of books but I was real uncertain when it came to this property. I’m still not keen on his Kylo but I’m not sure many artists can really capture Adam Driver in a way that doesn’t look not great. The book in general has a lot going for it but I’m really going to question the Snoke attire choices when it comes to that hat.
The book goes for a split approach where we see Ben after he had left Luke and the ruins of the academy. His connecting with Snoke has him sussing out some of his own frustrations, such as being named after a great man he never met and that his own father’s last name was made up, which makes him feel even more fake. What he wants is to feel like he has a purpose and Snoke is able to nudge him along that path a bit more. That it comes to connecting with the Knights of Ren makes sense to him from his own past but he has to deal with his fellow academy members that have come in search of him, giving him a proper confrontation for the next installment.
The bulk of the book takes place several years in the past as we see Ben and Luke on a mission with Lor Sen Takka (remember him, kids?). They’re following up a description of a potential Jedi temple near the edges of wild space that Lor had heard about. For Ben, he’s feeling useless here at a younger age because he’s not even able to fly the ship and just has to listen to the two old men. The temple itself is intriguing and it’s filled with a lot of relics as it’s actually a storage place that the Jedi never made it back to. The Knights of Ren are already there, however, and they’re looking to acquire the tools themselves. We don’t get the names of them here (the visual dictionary has that) but they’re starting to feel like fleshed out tools themselves for what’s orchestrating the dark side of events in this period of time and with Snoke having been talking with Ben for years in his mind in secret, the Knights are of a similar thing, something that he eventually wants to aspire to.
While I do wish the Knights of Ren got utilized more in the films, they’re basically the Boba Fett of the sequel trilogy and not even fully. So giving them time to be explored more leisurely in comic form is welcome because we see how instrumental they are to what happened to Ben and his transformation into Kylo Ren. These are all things that were likely drafted out at some point and considered as canon but ended up on the cutting room floor in some department. Bringing it to life here will frustrate those that don’t read comics but for those like us who do, it’s a pretty solid story that explains a number of things and takes us deeper into the well of resentment that seems to make up who Ben is.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: January 8th, 2020